For as long as I can remember, I have had issues dealing with stress and anxiety disorder. Recently, a friend told me that I was “such a chill and laid back person” and I almost choked on my soy milk cappuccino because I am literally the most tightly wound person in England, and quite possibly the entire world. I believe it started when I was in the cub scouts, and I vowed “to always be prepared”. A promise which I have evidently taken too literally as I have developed an anxiety disorder which forces me to plan out every single possible scenario in my head.
So was it a shock to me when my doctor spun round and told me I had developed depression? No, because as I have stated previously, I have an anxiety disorder which forces me to plan out every single possible scenario in my head. Keep up.
How did I know I had depression? Well, I felt sad (shocker). But for real, whenever I was alone I felt this overwhelming feeling of sadness. While anxiety disorder pulsates adrenaline through your veins and sends my mind into thinking 100 thoughts a second, depression has the opposite effect. Suddenly my world had the sepia filter on. I took of my 3D-glasses to find everything flat and blurry. Flowers resisted blooming, the sun hid behind clouds, and I felt like Chandler in that episode of Friends where Joey forces him into a box with only a little peep-hole to see into the outside world (edit: season 4, episode 8).
I find it really hard to enjoy things that I used to enjoy, and sometimes getting out of bed and doing some work makes me feel like I deserve some kind of award. It can be incredibly difficult to focus and do work as my brain will not stop telling me how shit my essay is. Depression is constantly doubting yourself and needing validation that what I am doing or who I am is okay. It is really hard to admit this, even just typing it on my laptop is making me realise how deep this issue is.
I used to not want to open up to people without depression, I thought they just wouldn’t understand. I tend to put on a bubbly, happy-go-lucky front, and I did not want people to view me differently. Or worse: pity me. However, one day I decided maybe I shouldn’t be discriminatory towards the happy-inclined and started slowly opening up to friends and family (and now the internet).
Am I fully recovered? No. Am I close to being cured of depression? No. But I am here to tell you guys that I am on my way. It might be something that I am never totally cured of, and so I guess I’ll have to get used to it sticking around. Like that weird smell that has lingered in the flat ever since your flatmate opened their bottle of 5 months expired milk.
From one sad bean to another, I do have a few tips. Or as I like to call it- A beginner’s guide to BDSM: Being Depressed So Much
1. talk to someone. It sounds really basic but if you can find one single person to talk to then 100% go for it. Hopefully they won’t judge you and they’ll help you work out what the next plan of action is. If you don’t have anyone you can talk to, here’s a link to a forum you can join: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/online-forums
2. Do some research! You have to be careful what sites you visit as the information may not be totally correct, but I recommend the NHS website as they’re pretty legit.
3. Know that you aren’t alone in your disorder. I know it’s obvious as depression is a leading mental health issue, but I know how isolating it can feel. Again, use the forum if you want to talk to someone with the same issue as you. It can feel really nice to share experiences and realise any similarities you have.
4. I actually recommend listening to a podcast/youtube series called ‘Adult Sh1t’. It’s free on Spotify, YouTube and iTunes. It’s rude and all but Kate and Kelsey talk about mental health and are real with it and they’re so funny. I just find it really encouraging. There are of course many more you can try out, but that is just my current favourite.
5. Practise self care. Whether going to the gym or having a hot bubble bath, do things for yourself that make you happy. Be a little selfish, be a little erratic. You know what’s best for you and if it helps alleviate depression, even for just 5 minutes, then it’s totally worth it (I like baking, Animal Crossing and shopping to cheer myself up)
6. I know this sounds scary but if you are feeling at all suicidal or want to hurt yourself, then contact someone ASAP. Either a family member or a friend or call 116 123 (Samaritans, they’re open 24/7 and I have heard are super nice)
7. And if you haven’t had it officially diagnosed yet- go to a doctor! Your GP will listen and give you all the help you need. You can even go see a therapist if that helps? Sussex uni has counselling for mental health (the building is hidden right behind the mini doctors on campus)
I know I’ve been pretty lighthearted and jokey during this article, and that’s mainly a self-defence mechanism. My goal isn’t to trigger you and make you feel worse; it’s to show you that you aren’t alone, and you can and should laugh in the face of adversity. If I have made even one person’s life a little easier, then I feel like writing this was a success.